Recent Cutbacks, a New York-based production company, presents “KEVIN!!!!!,”a musical parody of the 1990 holiday classic film “Home Alone” for a second weekend Dec. 20-23 at The District Theatre in downtown Indy’s Mass Ave Arts & Theatre District.
The show’s ensemble, which features Indy native Nick Abeel, who grew up in Woodruff Place on the city’s Near Eastside, was also a smash hit in the 2016 IndyFringe Theatre Festival with their “Jurassic Park” parody, “Hold On To Your Butts.”
Due to the fact that my schedule has been crammed with coverage of multiple holiday performing arts events, I was critically short on time. But when I discovered that Abeel was a hometown product, I did not want to miss the opportunity to learn more about him and the company’s creation, so I sent Abeel email questions, to which he was kind enough to provide answers. Below is a transcript of our cyber-interview.
How long have you lived in NYC?
I grew up here in Indy and started doing theater in 1997 with “To Kill a Mockingbird” at IRT. I went to the University of Evansville’s theater program and moved to New York soon after graduating in 2009. So, I just hit my nine-year anniversary.
Why did you move there?
Once I graduated from high school, I had been working in Indy theater for almost a decade. New York felt like a challenge.
Describe your activities there?
I spent the first few years auditioning, performing in readings of new plays, and doing regional theater. I fell in with a company doing a monthly show of short-form plays and I got to try my hand at writing, directing, producing, and sound design. In 2014, I joined Broken Box Mime Theater, a company writing and performing contemporary short-form stories told entirely through movement. Also in 2014, we made a parody of the movie “Jurassic Park,” kind of as a goof. The show took off and that was the genesis of this company, Recent Cutbacks, which made “KEVIN!!!!!”
Has the company built an audience there?
We have. Our audience is mostly folks our age — people who grew up watching the movies that we’re parodying. I think our style of theater also appeals to this age group because it’s informal, lo-fi, and most-importantly — fun.
What is the genesis of “KEVIN!!!!!?”
We knew we wanted to do a holiday movie and had previously parodied two big blockbuster movies with a very pared-down style. “Home Alone” presented an interesting challenge to us because it’s a movie that exists in real space with real people in real time. Staging it as we had our other projects wouldn’t have worked. We had experimented with live-filming/projecting on a previous project and we thought it could be a good fit with a movie that we decided needed a heavy-style filter.
How and when did your interest in puppetry begin?
Really, with this project. This company has been a great way to experiment with theatrical forms and our shows hadn’t employed much puppetry. I’ve always preferred learning by doing, so what better way to learn about puppetry than to build a show with lots of different types of puppetry?
What is its history? Where has it been played?
We made this show for the 2016 holiday season and ran it in New York at the Peoples Improv Theater. We brought it back last year and again this year.
How do audiences respond to it?
This show is a logistical feat. Two projectors, three cameras, puppets, miniature sets, a four-person choir. This show has A LOT of moving parts, so I think it takes audiences a few minutes to understand what they’re watching. So, I think the response I get most is “I’ve never seen a show like this before.”
Why does the “Home Alone” story resonate with people?
I think it’s mostly just a well-made movie that’s funny and heartfelt. It also came out at a time in my life that makes it nostalgic for me.
How often do you return to Indy?
I’ve been lucky enough to come back to Indy quite a bit. I’ve done a few shows at the IRT and brought my own shows back to IndyFringe and The District Theatre.
I see your dad is in the show…what is his role? I take it he is supportive of your career?
He is! This show has a four-person choir and we decided to hire three locals. My dad has performed in community theater musicals over the years — I like to say he followed in my footsteps, (laughs).
How do you view Indy, especially the theater scene now that you do not live here any longer?
Why should people come to see “KEVIN!!!!!?”
It’s unique. It’s fun. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.
What do you hope they will take away from it?
I just hope people have a good time. This company’s primary goal has always been FUN.
Tickets for “Home Alone” are $25 – Adults / $20 – Seniors / $15 – Students with valid ID.The show is family-friendly, however, it’s recommended for children 8+. Buy tickets at www.indydistricttheatre.org or call (317) 308-9800.